My garden is outdoing itself this August. The second crop of beans, just planted in mid-July, is already producing enough for dinner every other day, and the peas just planted last week where the cucumber vines had been are already 2 inches high. The wash tub of carrots produces enough for the two of us each week, and the larger galvanized tub of mixed salad greens provides all we need for green salads. The rows of fat, delicious leeks are undemanding and I love being able to just pull them up whenever I need them. The two eggplants have overwhelmed us with fruit and of course, all the squash and the tomatoes are working overtime.
I picked all the baby cucumbers last week and made them into Bread and Butter pickles, using my favorite recipe from the Ball Blue Book. These pickles are crisp and sweet, and are a wonderful accompaniment to summer sandwiches. At the same time I made a jar of pickled cornichons (grown from some heirloom seeds I finally found after years of searching) using a recipe from the ancient French encyclopedia, Larousse Gastronomique. (If you are interested in pickling, there is a lot of good information in both the Ball book and on www.Pickyourown.org, including illustrated recipes for pickling and freezing just about anything you can think of.)
Each year I try a variety of new recipes for squash, and this year’s winner thus far has been the Summer Squash Lattice tart made from a Martha Stewart recipe you can find here. It’s a pretty little thing, and if you use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust like I did, rather than make your own Pate Brisse, it is an easy and perfect summertime dish.
The tomatoes, squash and eggplants I’ll slice into ¼-inch rounds, brush the slices with olive oil and roast them along with some red onion slices in a 400 degree oven until golden brown. I layer the cooled slices into pretty little stacks, alternating the vegetables with a little chevre between each slice. When ready to serve, I simply bake the “Napoleons” in a 350 degree oven until the cheese has softened slightly and drizzle each stack with a little Balsamic vinegar. (Recipe courtesy Erik Rochard of the Café de Paris in Columbia.)
By Judith Conway
Judith Conway is an artist, teacher, gardener and cook (and loyal Behnkes’ customer and friend). She is co-owner of Vitrum Studio, an internationally-known glass studio and school in Beltsville, Md.